ACO Adjusts Final Lap Classification Rule for 24H Le Mans

Photo: Toyota

Photo: Toyota

The ACO has adjusted the requirements for classification in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in the wake of this year’s dramatic finish that stripped the No. 5 Toyota TS050 Hybrid of a podium result.

A new penalty system has been introduced for cars not completing the final lap in less than six minutes.

Cars will be given a one-lap post-race penalty if the final lap is completed between six and seven minutes in length, with two laps deducted if completed in seven minutes, four laps between nine and ten minutes, and ten laps between ten and 15 minutes.

Any car completing the final lap in more than 15 minutes, meanwhile, will be excluded.

The new rule comes into place after the Toyota’s final lap misfortunes, which saw Kazuki Nakajima stop on the start-finish straight with engine issues, while leading, and complete a 12-minute final lap but not classified due to the previous six-minute maximum time restriction.

With the 2017 rule enforced, it would have put the No. 5 crew of Nakajima, Sebastien Buemi and Anthony Davidson third in the race, with a four-lap penalty tacked onto its result.

Among other items confirmed in the 2017 Le Mans Sporting Regulations, which was released last week, include a requirement for teams to make full driver lineup declarations by May 11. Any changes after that date would be granted at the ACO’s discretion, and subject to a 5,000 Euro fee.

The 2017 running of the French endurance classic is set for June 17-18 with the official test day taking place on June 4.

15 Comments

  1. David Chaste

    December 19, 2016 at 7:05 am

    “Any car completing the final lap in more than 15 minutes, meanwhile, will be excluded”

    This is a joke, and that line takes the cake. So a car that fails to finish the race but does 70% of the race is usually still counted in the result. But a car not finishing the final lap in 15 minutes is excluded???! What if they are so far ahead that after 24hrs they are still in podium contention like the Toyota was? Or even after 24hrs they are leading by so much that despite the 15 mn no one can catch up to them??? To spend all those resources, and come up empty on a joke of a ruling is quite ruthless and inconsiderate.

    Breaching the rules is only O.K, when a French car driven by a French Superstar driver born in LeMans does it.

    • Starcrossed

      December 19, 2016 at 7:26 am

      They really shouldn’t bother DNFing anyone. Just do a straight laps completed classification.

    • Bakkster

      December 19, 2016 at 7:30 am

      If it takes you 15 minutes to complete the final lap, then you’re not so much limping home as you are unable to finish.

      Personally, I think this is a terrible change to the rule. I think the original rule was part of the allure of Le Mans. It’s an unforgiving race and that’s part of what makes it special.

      It’s a little less special now.

      • Brad

        December 26, 2016 at 7:44 pm

        I agree.

        It is about keeping your car running.

    • Rus'L

      December 19, 2016 at 12:23 pm

      Le Mans has always had the rule that if you can’t take the checkered flag, you can’t finish the race. Le Mans is an endurance race. If you can’t endure it, don’t show up.

    • GTurner38

      December 23, 2016 at 1:09 am

      It never was just a matter of doing 70%. You have to finish to get a result at Le Mans or in the WEC and ELMS. Without that rule, there have been times that the race would have been decided with over an hour left on the clock.

      To be honest, the WEC had been rather generous in what they considered finishing the final lap last year. Even if we disregard the fact that the last lap for the Toyota at Spa started when the car came into the pits for repair and therefore lasted just shy of 2 hours, the actual pace on track was the equivalent of a 10 minute lap of Le Mans.

  2. Okeymakey

    December 19, 2016 at 10:14 am

    I’m more forgiving… I would only DNF a given car that fails to complete 90% of laps of the leading class car…otherwise it should be classified with the time of the latest crossing through the finish line. Why so much complications?

    • GTurner38

      December 23, 2016 at 1:14 am

      A requirement to complete 90% of the class leader’s distance would have reinstated the Toyota while eliminating 4 other cars that were classified under the current rules.

      The way I see it, you can’t claim to have finished a 24 hour race if your car is dead at the side of the road 22 hours into it.

  3. Michael coter

    December 19, 2016 at 10:30 am

    This rule is very French,this is the ACO mind you, they made the cars go the first hour without fueling,topping up oil or water back in the early days of the race

  4. Kirk

    December 19, 2016 at 11:44 am

    I think this may result in quite a few cars “stalled” a few hundred yards before start/finish that limp across the line shortly after the winner completes the race. Better to stop early and limp across after the winner than to stop a few yards after start finish and not be able to complete that all-important final lap.

    It reminds me of that 60’s Daytona finish when Dan Gurney stopped his car a few feet from start finish and then rolled down the banking to cross the line when the checkered flag started waving.

    • GTurner38

      December 23, 2016 at 1:19 am

      I doubt it will make much difference. Before the car could come to a stop, it realistically will have to go 16 miles since an outlap leaving the pits includes all of the time the car spent on the pit lane and in the garage. If you can run two laps but are fearful of trying to run more, your best bet is to wait and just go out with maybe 5 or 6 minutes left, complete one lap before the clock hits 3:00pm, then slow down to fall in behind the leader.

  5. Mike D.

    December 19, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    This is a stupid gimmick change that has made the event worse.

  6. FlyingLobster27

    December 19, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    The classification rule was fine as it was. It was complicated enough to eliminate problematic practices, and simple enough to explain and grasp.

  7. Parker

    December 20, 2016 at 8:38 am

    Would this be in effect if the flagmen are all waving their flags on the last lap instead of on the cool down lap?

  8. Don Bingaman

    December 22, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    I think they should go back to the Can-Am approach. The winner is the team who completes the most miles in 24 hours – period, even if they do it in the first two hours. Get rid of every other rule but driver safety and TOTAL amount of fuel allowed to be used. Use the fuel ration to keep speeds rational.

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